Sunday, December 22, 2013

4th Week of Advent - Hope

As I prayed the Gospel this morning with the children, I was struck by the lines within the New Testament which come directly from the Old Testament reading from Isaiah:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel.

Imagine Joseph upon hearing these words from Scripture within his dream, spoken to him by an angel;  imagine the comfort he must have felt knowing that God was blessing him.  No matter what troubles he might have to endure in his life, he was comforted by the hope of Emmanuel as promised in Scripture.  

From a human perspective, I can believe it was still very difficult trying to be a man in this precarious situation given the times he lived in, but knowing that God offered him hope through the words of the prophets must have given him the strength he needed to do what might otherwise have seemed impossible.

Emmanuel.  God is with us.  Emmanuel.  Hope. Joy.  Love. Peace.    I often reflect upon my own steps during this beautiful season of Advent, all times truthfully, but Advent offers a specific focus each week.  

During Week One, was I at Peace?  More importantly, did I offer Peace?  Did I put aside difficulties with others so as to create Peace within those relationships?  Did I draw upon Christ for the strength do to so?  Also, did I bring Peace to others whom I do not know.  The store clerks, the nurses in a doctor's office, the customer service rep on the telephone.  Was I Peace to those I encountered?  

Week Two exudes Love.  Again, I ask myself, was I Love to all who I interacted with?  Was I Love to those that I may not feel deserve to have my Love.  I remind myself of how undeserving I am of His Love, but He offers it.  Freely.  And generously.

Week Three proclaims Joy!  The children can not wait to light that rose colored candle as they wait in JOYFUL HOPE for the coming of Christmas.  How Joy-filled have I allowed this time to be?  Or did I allow it to be a period of stress and anxiety that proclaims nothing but misery, guilt, and feelings of ambivalence?  

Week Four has arrived and we now turn to Hope.  The Hope of Christmas.  The Hope of the Savior; Emmanuel.  Not just a name or a title; a promise.  A Hope-filled promise from God that He is with us always.  Even when we are not at peace.  When we do not love.  When we have lost our joy.  He offers us hope through His gift to us.

My faith calls me to be the hands and feet of Christ as I am a member of the body of Christ.  So, today, my deep reflection leaves me with this question...
Am I Emmanuel to those I meet?
My prayer is that I am.  I know that I am not nearly as loving as I am called to be, but my HOPE lies in the Emmanuel within me.  And as I sing Psalm 24, I leave my heart open even more to allow Him to transform me to the point where I do not recognize myself.  
Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Blogging has become something that I wish I could do, but have no desire to do.  Makes the writing process  a bit more challenging. 

I'm tired.  Exhausted really.  In most every area.  2013 has been a year of wonderful things and amazing moments.  It has also been a year of challenges that I never envisioned facing in my life.  We never envision facing things unpleasant I suppose.

I've come to question everything.  Everything.  Every.  Little.  Thing.  And what remains is this.

I love God. 

I love my Church.

I love my family.

I love the few close friends I have.

I love the country I used to know.

All else is unimportant.  I have come to realize that the better part of my 48 years has been spent trying to please someone other than my God, whether it was myself or some other human.  Either way, it never ended up being true joy.  Only He can provide my joy.  Often He uses my family and friends to show it to me, but ultimately, it is a conversation between He and I. 

All else is up in the air.  Things that used to seem important and noble seem less so now.  Perhaps it is because of the emerging that my soul has gone through over the last year.  Perhaps it is just the transition point between where I was and where I am going. 

I have felt a call to disconnect from most things these days.  Social media, the news, even prayer lines...all seem to pull me away from my goal of growing closer to Him.  My own sin is capable of doing this...I don't need the extra help. 

I miss writing, but even here I feel there is a level of expectation that I can no longer maintain.  Begin.  That is the message I hear.  Begin.  Just start.  Don't worry who is reading, who is watching.  It isn't for them anyway. 

So here I am.  To begin.  Again.  To write.  Again.  A little every day.  Like it or hate it.  It is what it is. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Monthly Post

Seems I have been on a once a month posting pattern for awhile.  Trying to re-enter the blogging world with something more than running. 

Some things so deeper than I want to share on the blog.  Some things seem silly to blog about.  Time to redefine the blog.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

One Year Later

Lara has penned one of the most beautiful tributes to love, loss, and the lessons that await us within the depth of the most painful experience a parent, a sibling, or any loved one will endure.  Take a moment to fall into this one.

Love and Loss at One Year

This little saint continues to teach me lessons.  Thank you, Hans. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Run for Life

I am not one who typically attempts to raise money with my athletic endeavors, however I have made an exception for this cause.

Houston Coalition for Life seeks to provide medical care to those who can not afford it by way of a mobile pregnancy assistance center.  They are adamant about providing life giving care in a peaceful, loving way. 

Even if one is Pro Choice, I ask you to consider donating to this cause, because Life is one of the choices that can be made and having access to pregnancy care for those most in need of that care could be the only factor that makes a mother decide one way or another.

Please keep this cause and all who do this work in your prayers. And if you can help, even in some small way, I will be forever grateful!

My Fundraising Page can be found here. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mary, Untier of Knots

I found this prayer on a blog that I visit and felt compelled to share it here.  May it bring comfort to whomever prays it.

Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exists in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exist in my life. 
You know very well how desperate I am, my pain, and how I am bound by these knots. 
Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of his children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life. 
No one, not even the Evil One himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone. 
Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot.
[Mention your request here]
I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all. You are my hope. 
O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution, and, with Christ, the freedom from my chains. 
Hear my plea. 
Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for us.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Texas Star Tri

Details to be posted once I receive them.  I did win 1st place in my AG, but I would really love to know my splits.

Fun race with friends and a beautiful Texas summer morning.

More to follow

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Savvy Cycling

I saw this animation and learned a lot from it.  I thought, perhaps, it could benefit others as well.  Cyclists are typically motorists too, so seeing this helped me in more than one way

Savvy Cyclist Lane Control

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Recovering and Reclaiming

This post will be quite scattered as my mind is in that general state most of the time lately.

I am in week 3 of recovery and just as I was beginning to feel somewhat like myself and fairly well-rested, I have developed an acute case of a very unhappy psoas muscle.

It may not be as acute as initially believed as I have been thinking back over the last week before the race and see now that there were signs that were probably mis-read as something else.

Thankfully, I am in recovery and I can take the time to get this squared away.  This leaves me with a mind that does more thinking about things than normally afforded.

So here are a few of my ramblings, feel free to skip to the next person's blog.
Finding the New Normal  not as easy as it seems.  Going from 16- 20 hours of training time + prep and clean up time which could easily add another 15 hours per week if not more, to zero - 8 hours per week...very weird.

The top 3 things that made my race successful:
Aside from prayer and lots of it on many fronts and by many people the top 3 contributors to my IMTX finish
1.  HR training - For years I have attempted to HR train to no avail.  This time around, I stuck with my HR zones after developing them myself, based on my personal ridiculously high HR.  I did not race with a Garmin, only a HR monitor.  The majority of the race was done in Zone 2/3.  I am happy with that given the heat of the day and the goal of finishing by cut off.

2.  Be Iron Fit - One of the concerns I had about taking on the challenge of IM was the fact that, unlike many other athletes in the area, I could not budget in a coach for my training.  I would have to find a plan that would work for me and pray that it was good enough.  Be Iron Fit did that for me.  I did a lot of comparing of mileage and time between Fink's plan and the plan of local coached friends and found them to be close to the same.  Of course, being able to have a personal coach comes with benefits that a book can't provide, but I am blessed with some great friends who were happy to share their experience with me. 

3.  Tailwind  - I have reviewed this product a few times already, so I won't do it again here.  I do believe that Tailwind saved my race. I never felt bad.  I never felt dehydrated or low in electrolytes.  This product does what it says it will do.  Period. 

People often mentioned to me that they have no idea how I could possible have had time to train for this event.  The truth is, other parts of my daily life suffered.  Below is a short list, in no certain order. 

my family time
my laundry
my checkbook - not balanced
my household organization
lack of time to cook real meals
lack of time to  plan menus or grocery shop
my ability to read a book
my ability to watch a movie or a tv show
my time with friends

Lessons I learned while Training

I never knew if I could really make it through the training for this race, but my motto was, I will just keep going until I hear otherwise.  In other words, when deciding to do something, even when we aren't sure, keep putting one foot in front of the other until it is obvious that we should be doing something different.
Prayer was crucial as I truly did not ever want this race to be solely about me.  I wanted to glorify God in my efforts. 

My family is truly amazing.  Every single one of them.  Near and far.  And my friends.  I can't even begin to imagine my life without them.  From in-person support, to texts, emails, private messages, voice mails, cards, signs, chocolate covered strawberries, mentions in DM and FB posts, and any other means of support offered, my friends and my family did that for me.

Questions that I get asked most often

The most popular question after, "How do you feel" or "How did you find time for that?" is "Where is your tattoo?!"

I will not be getting one.  This race was never something that I believed I could do on my own power so I do not feel that I can claim stake to the M-dot being permanently marked on my body.  If I ever was to have one, I would have to have Phil 4:13 incorporated into the tattoo as well.

What's next?

The next question after the tattoo question is, would you do it again?  I respond with an emphatic YES!  I would absolutely do it again!  However, for now, I won't.  Training is so much fun and I have never felt stronger than I do right now.  But it has come at a cost.  I have given up time with the ones I love the most and while they wouldn't have had it any other way, I am not ready to ask them to give up more.  For now, I will focus on some shorter distance races so that I can keep my skills up and focus on strengthening my ability in each discipline.  As well, I also miss running trails and would like to spend some time doing that this season.  There are a few possible tris I am looking at, nothing over the Half IM distance though. 

Which is harder Ultras or IMs, which do you like better? 

Ultras and Ironman are both filled with their own challenges and their own thrills.  I love all of it.  I love the preparation, the people, the training, the excitement, even the nervous anxiety that sets in.  The taper, not so much, but I don't think we are supposed to like it. Recalling that every thing I am blessed to do is a gift from God, I can't say that I regret doing any of it.  (OK...maybe not the night time trail run that had starting temps of 112 degrees.)

I  read an article where the author wrote about a co-worker who said to him, "Welcome to the club", after he finished his first Ironman.  The author realized that he never saw this as a way to "enter a club."  He was training FOR the Ironman.  For the CHANCE to PARTICIPATE in an Ironman, but to BECOME an Ironman, that was never a thought in the plan.  I can relate so much to this line of thought.  I am not a stellar athlete, and I don't say that to downplay my ability; I just say what I believe to be true.  There are better athletes out there, faster, stronger, facing larger challenges, etc.  I love doing what I do and I am so thankful to have the opportunity. 

Yes, I finished Ironman, but AM I an Ironman?  That is yet to be determined. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ironman Texas 2013

Pre Race
Mark and I were up at 4:15 and out the door by 5:10 to get to transition by 5:30.  I found it strange that transition opened so late and while I was double checking the bike and placing my bottles, the announcer kept repeating that they would close transition at 6:15.  I suppose when everything has to be checked in the day before, people do not need much time to get into transition on race morning.

It was quite a walk from transition, Town Green Park, to Northshore Park, where the swim start was staged.  After spending about 40 mins in line for the bathroom, it was time to take a few quick pictures with Mark and Lem.
  I also had the pleasure of meeting up with Erica, Debra, and Dinh!
Next it was time to get into the water and await the shot of the cannon.  As I entered to the right of the dock, I noticed the cannon on the shore line.  I had a good laugh as the thing was maybe a foot long.  It looked like a toy!  But it did it's job, and did it well.    There was lots of nervous energy surrounding me in the water.  I placed myself into a quiet place, said some prayers, got a bit teary-eyed, and then, decided it was time to have fun.

I will list projected times and actual times for each discipline, however, I want to mention that I did not wear a watch to monitor my pace for any of this race.  I did wear a heart rate monitor and made every effort to stay in high zone 2. 

The Swim :  Projected Time:  1:45 - 1:50.  Actual Time:  1:46:36  Avg HR 158; mid zone 2.

I had a difficult time trying to make up my mind about the swim, to wear a wet suit or not?  Finally, on Friday evening, I made the decision to trust completely in my ability to swim this distance, something I have done many times over the last few months, albeit, in a pool, but I knew I could swim this race without the wetsuit.  With that decision made, the only thing left to do was stay calm and try not to allow the typical open water swim panic set in.  I have a great fear of getting hit, breaking a toe or hand, or being swum over.
Fortunately, all of these fears were avoided, mostly.  A few bumps and swipes, but nothing very bad. I stayed on the far right until I reached the canal where I chose to stay in the middle, avoiding the sides where people were walking.
I was very comfortable swimming, not experiencing any feelings of anxiety or panic.  I kept my strokes slow and controlled, my breathing consistent and on the 3 count.  I used the breast stroke when I found I was bumping into people, sought out a place of comfort, and then continued on.  My sighting was easy enough as the buoys were not difficult to see and truthfully, I just kept following the bright caps in front of me.
About half way through the distance, the wet suit wave caught up to us.  I was surprised at how even with a ten minute delay, they were quickly able to reach us.  I continued to the canal and then felt the "washing machine" effect of the water moving side to side as we pressed forward.  As I turned to breathe, I saw many swimmers actually standing up to walk.  As tempting as that seemed, my pride got the best of me and I did not walk, as I did not want any pictures of me showing up "walking" my swim.
I actually sighted Mark and Lem on the side of the water way and George and Trudy!  It was so nice to see them!  I waved and gave them a thumbs up.
Seeing the final red buoy and the stairs to climb out, I was elated to finish this swim.  I think that this was the best I have ever felt after a swim of this length.
"I did NOT drown!!"

T1 Time:  Projected Time: 10:00; Actual Time:  9:42

Took the time to apply enough sunscreen, dry my feet well and take in some calories.  This was all a blur, but I do know that the volunteers were so helpful, kind, and eager to do whatever was necessary to help us get onto the bike.

The Bike:  Projected Time:  7 - 7.5 hours; Actual Time:  7:30:24

This was the part of the race I was probably most concerned about.  I am not a strong cyclist and I have had some difficult training rides, especially on the back part of the course, miles 60-90.  Before starting the race, I made up my mind that know matter what, I would not drop from this race on my own volition.  If I was pulled for medical or failing to meet a cut off, then so be it, but I would not drop.
That decision made, I put myself in a good place mentally.  I focused a great amount of mental energy on staying in my HR zone and I was diligent in my hydration and nutrition.  The first 30 miles of the course, my HR was 20-25 beats into zone 3, usually not an issue on the bike for me, but I determined the heat coupled with the race endorphins were the culprit.  I kept the cadence high and the gears low and had a great ride.
I knew it was hot, but I never asked anyone what the temps were.  I did not want a number in my head to play games with my mind.  I stopped at every aid station long enough to squeeze a full bottle of water into my bike bottle.  It didn't take longer than a minute, but this was an important detail.  I was thankful I had done this by mile 95 as the aid station prior to 95 was 15 miles earlier rather than 10.
I saw MANY guys down on the road.  Heat was getting them.  I passed along some of my s caps and advil to people who needed it and stayed consistent with my own hydration and nutrition.
My nutrition consisted of Tailwind, 265 calories + 24 ounces (at least) of water, and 2 Clif blox per hour.  This magic number was my key to this race, as was the Tailwind Nutrition.  I can't say enough about this product.  It does exactly what it says it will do, and as someone who has suffered several bouts of heat stroke, dehydration, and had to take more than a few dnf's for these conditions, I feel safe in saying, Tailwind saved my race.
I saw Stacy at mile 60, then again at mile 80.  It was so uplifting to see her.  I also was able to speak with The Twinings at the aid station at mile 80.  A true blessing to have them come out to see me and I loved giving them big sweaty hugs!
There was also someone cheering me on on mile 70, but I don't know who it was as I passed by before my eyes could see who they were.  Whomever it was, THANK YOU, for being out there!
Mark and the entire family were at mile 90, and then I saw more friends at mile 110.  I can't say enough how much having support on the course helps.

The only real issue I had on the bike was my feet.  They began to feel as though they were on fire at about mile 70 and by mile 95, I thought I might have to lose the shoes and pedal barefoot.  An aid station volunteer asked me how I was, I mentioned the feet, and she said she was a cyclist and told me to loosen my shoes and start pulling up more.  What an angel.  Elaine Mims, I don't know who you are, but you were spot on!  I did what you suggested and the burning sensation went away almost immediately.
Again, the volunteers working out on the course were amazing.  I pulled into one aid station and saw my friend Ruth who did not know I was doing the race.  When she asked what I needed, I told her a hug, and she obliged!  Thank you Ruth!

T2 Projected Time 10:00 mins; Actual Time 24:00 mins.

I came into T2 with the end of the bike being more of a blur.  I felt great, but knew I needed to cool down before heading out on the run.  I made the decision to take longer in transition under the canopy to cool the core, change clothes, hydrate and apply more sunscreen.  I can't say enough about the ladies working in the changing tents.  They saw nasty stuff and helped remove disgusting clothes.  They applied sunscreen and took excellent care of us.  These folks are not just volunteers, they are saints!
Apparently, people were worried about me being in T2 so long, I never gave it a second thought because I knew exactly what I was doing there.  I didn't know how hot it really was, but I knew it was hot and heading back out without being properly cooled could have had detrimental effects on my run.
Later, when uploading the bike computer info, I was not surprised to see that the temps on the course were 104 degrees.  With little to no shade, with the exception of a few miles in the National Forest, the radiating heat coming off the road is surely what took many of the cyclists down.

The Run:  Projected Time:  4.5 - 5 hours; Actual Time:  5:36:21

The run was a 3 loop course which, in my opinion was perfect for both the athletes and the spectators.  Aid stations were every mile and I never saw a lack of enthusiasm from the volunteers, nor supplies such as ice, water, cola, etc.  Anything I needed, they had.  In the late stages of the run, I needed vaseline and they had plenty of it.
Each loop I planned to run as slow as needed to stay cool and hydrated.  I iced myself often, used the sponges and the water hoses whenever they were offered.  I utilized the 8/2 run/walk pattern as needed.
At one point on loop two, I was trying to do the math for the cut off, and asked Erica about it, thank God for her!  She told me I was on target and to keep doing what I was doing and I would be fine.  That was the only moment of doubt I had and with her reassurance, I let go of my concern and continued enjoying the run.
The kids had all made signs for me and I saw them on each loop.  I saw many friends along the route and made new ones that ran the race with me.

The run wasn't pretty as far as pace goes, but it was amazing as far as experiences go.  Seeing my family and friends at many locations through out the course was incredible.  People I didn't know doing things just to cheer the runners on whether it was dressing as male dancers( I took time to dance with them!) or playing loud music, or cheering as loud as they possibly could just to keep our spirits high!  And seeing friends that I did know working at aid stations, making sure I got a special touch of love, a hug, a smile, anything they could to encourage me.

I swear I must have had one of the largest cheering sections of all the athletes!  They are absolutely the best friends and family anyone could ever ask for, and I am humbled by the amount of sacrifice that they made in order for me to participate in this event.  For all the hours of my absence they endured while I trained, planned, rested, and trained some more, for the financial expense that a race of this nature incurs.  For the important events I missed while training and even while racing.  Foo's prom was the same night as the race and I was not there for him.  I know he understands, but if I have any regret, it is that I missed his day.  He did tell me that he saw me cross the finish line!  His prom was at the same hotel that the race was stationed out of and by some miracle, he came outside just as I crossed the finish line.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Speaking of the finish line, it was above and beyond the most amazing finish I have ever had.  Literally thousands of people lining the street, screaming and cheering, high-fiving, and fist pumping us all the way through the chute!  I think this picture taken by Mel really captures the moment so well.  It was all a blur, yet at the same time, I was stuck in time.
 I felt like a rock star and while this normally would make me very uncomfortable, I gladly accepted the vibes sent my way so as to honor my friends and family who have done so much for me.  This was not about me.  This was about us.  A group effort, led by our Father, fed by the Holy Spirit, and completed through Christ. 
Ironman's motto is "Anything is possible."  I believe this in my heart of hearts, but I think more accurately, it should be stated, "Anything is possible, through Christ who gives me strength."  

Upon crossing the finish line, I was caught by some wonderful friends, George and Trudy.  They took excellent care of me!  George made sure I hit all the appropriate stops along the way of the finishers alley.  Received my medal, my shirt, my hat, and took a picture.  He then walked me to my wonderful family.  Before long, I was encircled by many friends and family that had come to support me.  I felt completely loved as I turned around looking at all of the faces smiling at me.  I was awestruck.  To say I feel blessed does not even begin to describe it.  What I felt was the love that is known as Agape love.  A love beyond human love. 

I am going to place a few pictures here from the run and the finish.
Erica, Debra, and Might E! Helping me stay the course!

No words.

Finish Line is in Sight!

All Glory Be To God!

I would be greatly remiss if I did not give great thanks to Richard.  Not only did he overcome his obstacles far greater than my own to complete his 3rd Ironman to date, he held my hand through the last year of training, answering any and all questions I had, silly or not.  He encouraged me and believed in me when I could not believe that this was possible.  We spent many hours together training and talking and I have no doubt that without his help, I would not have completed this milestone.  Thank you is so inadequate in this situation, but it is all I have.  Thank you and I will pay it forward to someone else.
Also, to Angie and Amber, two wonderful new friends that I pray I will always be able to train with.  You girls are amazing and I love you!  This journey was complete because you were with me.

Of course, Mark, more than anyone, deserves the IM medal more than I.  No one else could put up with what I put him through.  For everything, for every single thing, thank you, and I love you.  Forever.

To my children and grandchildren, I love you more than life itself.  I know I have been a challenge to live with the last few months.  I appreciate your selfless giving of countless hours of babysitting, praying, coffee making, cooking and cleaning.  You guys are the best!

To my extended family, I love you more than ever before.  We have come through some real challenges as a family over the years and to be able to share this celebration of life with you is a gift.  I thank God every day for you and for all that you give of yourselves to me and to my children.

To my wonderful friends.  I would love to name you all, but I know I would leave someone out and I just can't bear that.  Know that I love each and everyone of you and that your prayers carried me through IMTX.  I felt every single one as I smiled through the entire course.  There is only one reason that this experience was as joyful as it was and it is purely due to your prayers, your cheers, your encouragement, your love.  Forever, I am grateful to you.  Each and every one. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Race Week

This week is the week I have been working towards for almost a year now.  I intend to slow down long enough to take in the sights, the sounds, the beauty, and the blessing of all that surrounds me this week.

My main goal is for the next few days is this...DNS.  Now in the racing world, that acronym stands for Did Not Start, and that is not at all what I am aiming for.  I am DNS'ing this week.  Do.  Nothing.  Stupid.

Yes, I tend to do stupid things the week or so before a big race and end up hurting myself, getting sick, losing things, etc.  So, I am adopting the DNS approach to the week and praying I get to the start in one piece.

I have had to shift my thinking whilst training from, "focus, push, focus, stretch, focus, grow," to, "relax, hold back, relax, easy, relax, you can't have all that you want right now, save it for Saturday".

It is not an easy mental shift to make, but I believe it is a necessary one and after this many weeks of effort and sacrifice, I need to execute the taper properly to attain my goal on Saturday.

Monday, May 6, 2013

IMTX Taper Week 1

Weekly Recap

April 29- May 5th
Swim: 4 miles in 2:35
Bike:   70 miles in 2:53 (spin classes included in this total)
Run:    15 miles in 2:24
Cross:  90 mins (yoga, planks, ab work)

Total Time:  10:00  Total Miles:  89 miles

Definitely a cut-back week from the last several week of training.  I was feeling nauseous and run down most of the week and decided to cut the long bike on Sunday from the schedule.  I also had to drop a swim due to scheduling and a run was cut short on Saturday from my stomach issues. 

I think all of these symptoms indicate it is time for taper.  

Friday, May 3, 2013

April Digits

Coming from my running background, these numbers just boggle my mind.

April Totals - Peak IM training

Swimming - 14 miles in 9:20

Biking - 491 miles in 26:52

Running - 108 miles in 18:04 (makes me wonder about that sub 24 H 100 miler in 2014...)

Total Mileage:  616 miles  Total Time:  55:03

This does not include the yoga and core fitness each week.

Now I understand why I am seeing such a physical transformation of myself.  I'm grateful that I have been injury-free thus far.  I know that if these were all running miles, well, I wouldn't be feeling this good.

Not feeling worried, just feeling ready.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Peak Week

I have somehow managed to fall behind on my weekly training updates, but for good reason.  I have been training!  

Last Monday began the biggest week of training for this training cycle and it started with a bang, one that had nothing to do with IMTX.  Monday found me in a dental chair dealing with pain and fear of the unknown that I had been trying to ignore until after the race.  

I had started noticing that after each workout, the pain in my last molar would increase greatly to the point where I could do nothing except go to sleep and pray it would stop by the time I woke up again.  

The doc said I needed a root canal and a crown, maybe two.  He figured I would get into the endodontist in a week or so, and then we would proceed from there. As luck would have it, the endo had an opening the very next morning at 7:45.  Lucky me!

I went on home and got my workouts in for the day and prepared myself mentally for the root canal and the probably loss of a solid week of training.

Tuesday morning came with the sun and I sailed through the root canal.  The doc was amazing and numbed me up enough that I was able to put in another solid day of workouts before the medication wore off.

Wednesday, I was back in the dental chair for the temporary crown placement.  Upon further investigation, it was discovered that the tooth adjacent to the problem molar had an ill-fitting crown that he felt should be replaced.  I agree to having both crowns done and when the bad crown was removed, 3 cavities were discovered.  Guess it really was an ill-fitting crown.  3 hours of drilling and filling, fitting, and molding were completed and again, I was numb enough to get solid workouts in.

Thursday was our last co-op day which I spent teaching and monitoring my pain level which was surprisingly low.  I was a bit tender, but nothing a few Advil didn't take care of.    I went ahead with my long run of 18 miles that evening and felt great.

Friday was a nice evening spin and short run.  Saturday I was able to do the open water swim in Lake Woodlands with a 40 mile bike ride and 2 mile run.  I really felt great.

Sunday was supposed to be a rest day, but I felt great and ended up going to a spin class.  

All in all, I am very pleased with how I am feeling coming off of the biggest week of training.  I am so thankful that I have not had any injuries and my fatigue is manageable.  I know beyond all doubt that Tailwind Nutrition is a perfect fit for me now.  With all of the dental work I had done, eating solid food was difficult.  Drinking Tailwind throughout the day and in each workout helped keep my calorie intake up and therefore I was able to get through each one, each recovery, with enough energy to prepare for the next one as well as take care of a very busy household.  Thank you, Tailwind!!

Weekly Recap
Apr 22th- Apr 28th

Swim: 4 miles in 3 hours (swam ows in wet suit)
Bike:   126 in 6 hours
Run:    29 miles in 4:58 hous
Cross:  30 mins (yoga, planks, ab work)

Total Time:  15:00  Total Miles:  161

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

On Being a Runner

April 15, 2013

Patriot's Day in Boston.  The beloved Boston Marathon.  An event so much like every other marathon, yet, in the same breath, so uniquely different.

The attacks that transpired yesterday were an attack on freedom.  Be it a domestic or foreign source of origin, it was an attack on the American Spirit.

As a running community, support and steadfastness are never in short supply.  Any reason we can find to run, be it a way to help a local food pantry, raise money for a cancer patient, drum up support for our fallen heroes, we are there, doing sometimes what is the only thing we know how to do.  We run.  Some fast, some slow, some middle of the pack.  But we run.  We don't care where our fellow runner stands politically, spiritually, or financially.  We only care.  We share a bond that very few others share.

I have met many people, discovered that they are runners, and while we may have no other thing in common, we run.  Together.  Even if we aren't together.  We race, together.  Even if they run a 6 min pace and I run a 12 min pace, we are connected by the spirit of the run.

Many have noted that the attack in Boston was on runners.  And it was.  But what's more, they attacked those who support runners.  The ones who might never run, who may have run once upon a time, the ones who make it possible for US to run.  The attack was directed at our support, our life line, the very ones who sacrifice the most to allow us running folks to do what we do. 

While we runners will do most anything to support one another, we will do even more for them, the unsung heroes in our world.  There are no bounds.  There are no limits.  There are no excuses for what evil has done.  There is no explanation that will suffice.  Evil is evil, but God is God, and Truth, Freedom, Peace, and Love ALWAYS prevail.  Always.

However you choose to honor those affected by the senseless, selfish, evil that took place yesterday, never allow your heart to be tainted by what occurred.  Allow it to grieve, allow it to heal.    But don't let evil win. 

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

First Century Ride

From the title of this post, you might suspect that I plan to do more than a First Century Ride.  And you might be correct, but for now, I have one down. 

It was hard.  Very hard.  And IM training is harder than any ultra I have ever prepared for, but at the end of the day, when my exhausted body hits the pillow, I am content.

Do what you love.  Love what you do.  What do you love?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas

This weekend was a weekend full of firsts.  After the races I've done and the challenges I have been fortunate enough to have, it was a true blessing to fall into a race that allowed me to be a "first-timer" on many different fronts.

The Ironman 70.3 was set in beautiful Galveston, Texas.  A few years ago, I would not have referred to Galveston as beautiful, especially with the hurricanes the area has endured, but WOW, Galveston has really pulled itself up by it's bootstraps and it looks better than ever.   The race was based in Moody Gardens.  If you have never been there, I highly recommend a visit!  It's affordable, beautiful, and very relaxing.

From the outset, this race was not going to be a "race" in the truest sense of the word for me.  I needed to test out my training plan and my ability to adapt to the endurance triathlon scene.  Most importantly, I needed to get an idea if the changes I have made in nutrition were going to be a good choice for the full IM in May and for ultras in the future.

In short order, here is how things went:

Pre Race Check-In

Ironman has got their act together.  Check\- in was an art form, something to behold, and something all race organizers can strive to achieve.  Of course, this is largely dependent upon the volunteers, just like any race, and to say that they were wonderful would be an understatement.  They really were remarkable.  So helpful, friendly, and encouraging.  They were quick to point a first-timer in all the right directions and I was in and out of check-in very quickly.

I was eager to get the bike racked and walk through the transition area.  This went smoothly as well.
A sea of bicycles!

Mark and I found Richard and we headed for a late afternoon lunch at Moody Gardens Hotel.  We chatted about race stuff, and then headed off to see a bit of the Island.

The water was a bit chilly at 63 degrees.  Thankfully it warmed to 65 by race morning.
After a pretty good night's sleep, which in and of itself is very unusual for me, we were on the road to the race start by 5 am.  The early morning workouts I've been doing have helped to prepare me for this and I felt awake and ready to go.

I did have quite a bit of pre-race anxiety and after donning the wetsuit, snapping a few pictures, and kissing Mark goodbye, I shed a few tears of fear which is quite unusual.  I was overwhelmed with the gratitude I felt to be able to be in that moment.  So many sacrifices were made financially, emotionally, and physically by my wonderful family and friends so that I could live this dream.  Sunday was Divine Mercy Sunday and is my favorite Feast day of the liturgical year. I love the Divine Mercy prayer and novena as it always seems to heighten the Easter experience for me. Knowing I was racing on this day which is so special to me only made it that much better.

The Swim
I headed off to the pier I would be jumping off of with the others in light pink caps.  Our wave was at 7:25, and the wait leading up to our start was filled with many nervous conversations between ladies that were new to the sport and distance and sweet ladies that shared their experience to soothe the others' nerves.  It was really a beautiful thing to see.

On time, our horn sounded and we were off.  I had scoped out the swim course the day before and knew I would be following the yellow buoys, turn at the red, swim along the orange to the next red, then the yellows to the paddle boat.  It looked so far, and I suppose 1.2 miles is quite a far distance, but thinking about it in terms of yards helped to calm my nerves.  2112 yards.  I can swim that very comfortably any day of the week now.  Yet, as my body hit the water and the wetsuit pulled the cold water in, the breath left my lungs and I had a difficult time reclaiming it.  Within moments I was looking for a canoe and made the decision that I was going to quit.  Then, a man who I had just heard passed away from cancer came to my mind.  Lou was a young man with a young family and I could only think of how much he would loved to have had another day with them.  How could I possibly quit and lose this experience that I had been blessed with?

I talked myself into sticking with the swim until it felt good.  I knew I could handle the distance.  I knew I could handle the wetsuit.  So I started my counting routine.  One.  Two.  Three.  Breathe.  One Two.  Three.  Breathe.  Sight.  And I did this til everything felt right.  Before I knew it I was rounding the first buoy and heading back towards the next turn to shore.  The buoys were very helpful and there was not much on the coast line to sight.  My goggles were pretty fogged up and difficult to see out of, so the colored buoys were instrumental in keeping me on course.  If I could not see a buoy, I would breast stroke until I could find my next sight.  I didn't trust the swimmers around me as I noted many swimming way off course.

After a bit, I felt the pelting of many of the swimmers who were in the wave after our wave that were now catching up to us.  These were young men, obviously much quicker than us in the 45-49" pink ladies" wave.  I swam to a more outside position and found my groove once again.  The water became a bit more choppy along this portion and I realized that instead of fighting the water, I worked with it and it seemed to make things go more smoothly.

By the end of the swim, I was almost sad it was over, but I ran out of the water, stripping the wetsuit down as far as I could so that the strippers could take it off for me.   I didn't feel tired or winded at all and was looking forward to getting to the bike.

Predicted swim time was 45 minutes; actual swim time was 46:57.

My T1 time was ridiculously slow... 9:46.  I didn't even try to be fast.  I wanted to be sure I did everything properly and not rush through critical nutritional things.

The Bike

The bike aspect of this sport is the portion I am most unsure about.  I do not feel at all strong as a cyclist.  I only started cycling a year ago and even then, it was very haphazardly.  Most of my early biking was don in a spin class.  About two months ago, I switched to most outdoor rides.  I was able to overcome most of my fears on the road, but my strength has yet to show up.

The way out felt good for about the first 10-15 miles.  After that, I tolerated the ride and then I was pretty miserable.  No matter how much I pushed, I couldn't see speeds higher than 18 or 19 mph and just when I thought I was going to turn around and catch the tailwind, I hit more headwind.  I told Richard that I am convinced that I cycle in a bubble of headwinds.

I was able to get into the aerobars quite a bit, but I was in pain.  Neck pain mostly, then low back, then glutes.  Nothing felt comfortable.  And my hands were going numb.  They have been affected for about 2 months also.  I have no strength in them anymore and fine motor activities such as handwriting, nail clipping, application of make up, is near impossible or done very poorly.

I saw quite a number of riders with flats and a few went down right in front of me.  I felt like if I could look down instead of up and out, my neck would relax, but I didn't think that was safe with so much going on so quickly around me.  I think that perhaps my helmet needs to be adjusted so that it fits a bit further back on my head allowing me to look more with just my eyes rather than craning my neck so much while in aero position.

By the end of the ride, my predominant thought was that I just confirmed that there is no way I can do a 112 mile bike ride. 

A positive that did come from this ride was the nutrition.  I was able to take in exactly what I planned, 800 calories in the form of Tailwind, plus I drank two full bottles of water.  This seemed to work very well.  I was happy with the way I was able to take the bottles from the aid station volunteers and put it into my bike bottle.  Just a few weeks ago, I couldn't take my hands off the handle bars at all.

My predicted bike time was 3:30/ actual bike time was 3:28:49.

T2 time was slow as well:  6:30.

The Run

The run course was set up with 3 loops of just over 4 miles.  I am not usually a fan of loops and typically avoid them, but this time, I actually really enjoyed them!   The course was all within Moody Gardens which is beautiful.  There were plenty of people out on the course cheering us on.  I am fairly certain many of them didn't even have anyone running the race, just folks having fun sending out good vibes!  The course was also set up so that most of the route we saw other runners coming and going.  I had many moments were I saw people and passed them up only to find out later that they were on a different loop than I was.  Kind of funny to see my competitive nature come out like that.  I kept my pace intentionally slow so as not to blow up before the third loop.

By the time I began the 2nd loop it was quite warm, 85 degrees, and I was feeling a bit "weird".  I started having chills and that is usually the first sign of electrolytes being off.  So far, Tailwind has worked very well for me, but I knew going into the summer, I may need to take a few S caps to offset the electrolyte loss.  I decided to take one Scap and drink more water at each aid station.  I walked through each aid station to be sure I got a good drink and continued to drink from my 400 calorie bottle, taking mental note of drinking one third the first loop, one third the second loop, and one third the last loop.

This in and of itself was such a change for me.  I typically drink at will because I only carry water.  But now, knowing my calories are measured out for time, I was more conservative in just drinking because thought I was thirsty.  Instead, I drank when I felt I needed some calories and then drank as much water as necessary as I entered the aid station.

The first few times, I got things backwards drinking the water first and then taking the calories.  After awhile, I figured out that my palate liked it better if I drank the Tailwind first as I entered the aid station and then the water to wash it down.
The first loop I did use the 8/2 method for the first 3 miles.  Then I went to the walk through the aid station methodology.  This seemed to work very well for me.  I felt stronger on the second loop and by the third loop, I felt ready to push the pace.

The best part of this run was seeing my family several times on the course.  The run route lent itself well to spectators and for this, I was very grateful!
I was finding that I needed to hold myself back by the end of the third loop.  I wanted to push it, but I knew it was too soon.  The last mile I did open it up a bit and came in at an 8:30 something pace.

I crossed the finish line and blessed myself as I did.  I felt completely reliant on my faith for this race.  I overcame many fears through the encouragement of friends and family and good old fashioned "just do it" mentality.

My run time was predicted to be 2:15; actual time was 2:10:58.  I couldn't have been more pleased.

My race time was 6:43.  I was 44/74 for my AG.  Not too shabby for my first 70.3.

My initial reaction to this race was that as much as I enjoyed it, I was convinced that it only confirmed for me that I am not anywhere near ready for the challenge of the full distance.  Today, I can assess how I am feeling physically and while I still do not feel "ready" per se, I do trust what those who know me and those who have helped me get to where I am now have to say and they say I can finish IMTX.  Physically, I think my body is closer to being ready than my mind is, but with more work, prayer, and trusting in the plan, body, mind and spirit will be at the start line on May 18th.

And as always, Phillipians 4:13 will forever remind me that I CAN do all things, in Christ.  My Savior. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

2 fer 1

Life has been a bit busy the last two weeks leaving little time to update my blog.  I am putting the last two weeks and the monthly totals for March in one post.

Ironman Training Week 22
This week was shortened as I had a 4 day retreat that began on Thursday morning and kept me busy until midnight Sunday.  It was well worth the lack of sleep (6 hours over the four days) and missed training, which allowed for some recovery time.  God's time is always better than any training plan man can devise.

Weekly Recap
Mar 18 - Mar 24
Swim: 3,600 in 1:20
Bike:   18 miles in 1:03
Run:    5 miles in 1:00
Cross:  30 mins (yoga, planks, ab work)

Total Time:  4:00  Total Miles: 25

Ironman Training Week 23 
This week was a challenge as I attempted to catch up on sorely needed sleep and better nutrition. It was also Holy Week which for my family means we are at Church from Thursday night until Sunday morning.  By the week's end, and the end of my longest bike ride thus far, I felt great!  Rested and stronger than I have felt on the bike ever. 

Weekly Recap
Mar 25 - Mar 31
Swim: 6,400 yds in 2:20 (tried out the wet suit which felt good)
Bike:   105 miles in 6:45
Run:    20 miles in 3:16  (two 3:30 am wake ups)
Cross:  30 mins (yoga, planks, ab work)

Total Time:  13:00  Total Miles:  129

March Totals 
Highest mileage in one month ever!  I am loving how great I feel, despite the fatigue, and while I look forward to backing off of the length of the workouts post IM, I expect to continue with all 3 disciplines of training to prevent injury and overuse of any one muscle group.  I guess this makes me a convert to cross-training!

Total Time for March: 55 hours
Total Mileage for March:  521 miles

Thursday, March 28, 2013


My mother Lynne 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ironman Training Week 21

This week proved a challenge because I am trying to switch my rest day around.  The next several weeks will require me to have Sundays off instead of Mondays

Doing such required me to not take this past Monday off and resulted in me going without a complete rest day for 18 days.  One of the days I only did a walk with the kids and dogs, so I took that to mean a rest day, but on true rest days, I really try to not log any miles.
By Wednesday of last week, I was completely exhausted and though I had made a pact to make every single workout, I felt I would not be able to do it.
Last week was also Spring Break so I was fairly certain I would have plenty of time to fit everything in.  It was more of a challenge than I expected, but I did accomplish my goal.
The biggest issue of last week was/is my hands.  They are still not doing well.  They feel like rakes made out of Jello most of the time.  This makes swimming most unpleasant as I can not execute the proper form I would like.
It also makes any fine motor activities such as typing, writing, dressing, etc, much more.

I was pleased with my early morning runs this week, two of them!  One at 6 ish, and one at 4:30!  I could do that on a regular basis as long as my training friend is with me, but this is not something I am willing to do solo.  Safety is my primary concern when running at that time of day.

This week also marked our wedding anniversary on Friday.  This also happened to be the day I woke up at 3 and ran at 4:30.  My husband and I went out for the night and we stayed up til almost 3 Saturday morning.  A few years ago, this would have been the norm,  but now, it is not and I felt the lack of sleep for several days after.

On Saturday, I did a solo bike ride of 53 miles.  It was still very windy, but I was happy to be able to get into the aero bars more than ever before.  At points I would ride with one arm on the aero bars and one on the regular bar, close to the break.  30 mph winds are no joke.

All in all, I am feeling stronger in each discipline.  I do hope to feel better on the bike and wonder if I should concentrate more effort there rather than the pool or run.

The next three weeks will be a challenge scheduling.  I am away and unable to workout this week from Thursday - Sunday.  Next week is Holy week in which our commitments at Church are increased.  Everything else takes a back seat.
The week after Easter, I will be in Galveston for my first Half Ironman.   I tried on my wetsuit, (borrowed), and now need to find a time and a place to try it out.
Looks as though I will come off the HIM and the following weekend ride the full IMTX course.  This will be a huge mileage increase as I have yet to ride over 80 miles.

Trying to not freak out too much at one time.  Living in the moment and doing the best I can with what I have in front of me.  I'm just praying it is enough.

Weekly Recap
Mar 11 - Mar 17
Swim: 10,000 yds in 3:50
Bike:   128 miles in 7:01
Run: 22 miles in 3:35
Cross:  60 mins (yoga, planks, ab work)

Total Time:  15:00  Total Miles: 159

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Big Picture

Tonight at the Y, I was frantically trying to get my spin done so I could hurry home to eat dinner and get on with other chores that I am falling behind on and maybe even spend a few minutes with my kiddos before bedtime.

From across the room, I noticed a woman and a young man, probably in his late teens, maybe even his early 20s.  I could ascertain that this young man was the woman's son and was autistic.  He was not very verbal, but he was physically very fit and able-bodied.   His mother was helping him complete his workout on the Cybex machines.  She would run him through his sets, then he would sit directly in front of her while she did hers.

She was so kind.  She was so loving.  She was so patient.  I have always thanked God for the health of my children, and I have watch my children struggle with different situations from learning difficulties to emotional health problems.  I have close friends that have children with very serious health conditions and I have always admired them.  The parent of a special needs child lives a life of complete sacrifice and constant devotion.  If I am having a particularly bad spell with a child of mine, I can get out for a bit alone and get myself back on track.

The parents of a special needs child does not get this option.  These saints on earth dedicate their entire lives, for the rest of their lives, helping to care for, sometimes completely, these beautiful souls from Heaven.  I know how difficult this must be as I have talked with many parents that have children requiring this level of care.  These are the most selfless people who take on the most often thankless job of caregiver. 

For a moment last night, I felt somewhat guilty.  I mean, here I am training for an Ironman.  Worried about silly things like, "Will I have time to fit a swim in tomorrow if I am running child A to all of their appointments."  And this woman, helping her son as I am sure she has done every day of his life up to this point, will more than likely never have the time to dedicate to what I am blessed to do.    I began to feel a bit shallow, and again, I thanked God for the health of my children and their ability to grow to be independent adults one day.  Then I began to feel sorrow for her.  Until....

Her back was to me as she sat on the Cybex machine getting ready to do her set.  Her son sat dutifully directly in front of her and I could see his face.  He was so happy!  He was looking at his mother with the most beautiful eyes and smile I have ever seen!  He took her hand and rubbed in on his head, seeking comfort from her.  She accommodated him.  Then he took her hand and kissed it.  Over and over and over again.  He kissed her hand.  And I saw Jesus.  Kissing the hand of Our Blessed Mother.  And it was beautiful.

In all circumstances, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 
 1Thessalonians 5:18

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ironman Training Week 20

Hightlight of this week was the bike ride on Saturday.  The wind was killer an did a number on me mentally.  Often during the second half of the ride, I wanted to pull off the road and quit.  I have never felt that way on the bike before.

I spent the better part of the day after the ride trying to convince myself that a bad day on the road does not make or break my training overall.  I can't help but feel very weak on the bike and I know that I will use this weakness to fuel the fire to get better.

Finding a couple of positives from the ride, the first 20 miles went very well.  Cut about 20 minutes off of my typical time.  I felt strong and efficient.  Fish Creek was almost comfortable.  I came into the first rest stop feeling very confident and pleased with my effort.

I also am happy with my nutrition.  Again, I am using Tailwind and I am drinking on schedule keeping fueled and hydrated.  This stuff is working so well for me.  No GI issues, no electrolyte problems, and no lack of energy.  At least until the wind started beating me up.

Another positive from this ride was my ability to get into the aero bars on several occasions.  I felt comfortable and I think, sans wind, I might be able to stay in the bars more than a few minutes at a time.

On the negative side, I hate the wind.  I was blown around like a pair of socks on a clothesline.  This truly was a huge mental battle for me.  I finished the ride feeling completely discouraged in my ability to ride 112 miles.  Granted March winds are much stronger than May winds.  I felt terrible keeping Richard from riding with his group as he was kind enough to wait for me to catch up to him along the course.  There were points along the road were I wanted to stop and cry.  At one point, the wind was so strong that I had to stop to regain my composure.

Another issue for me is the hand weakness post ride. I can't use my fingers very well.  It takes me forever to type and do anything with my fingers.  I know that if I can get into the bars, this will be much better.

Sunday's run left me refreshed and renewed.  It was a raining, grey day, one of my favorite types of days to run.  I'm ready to start Peak Training.

Weekly Recap
Mar 4 - Mar 10
Swim:  9100 yds in 3:25
Bike:  115 miles in 6:30
Run: 30 miles in 4:28
Cross:  60 mins (yoga, planks, ab work)

Total Time:  15:00  Total Miles:  151

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ironman Training Week 19

This week went well as I hit every work out I needed to, even with many life events trying to take over.  Some workouts were shortened to accommodate the family schedule.

I did have a slight mishap with the tri bike.  Thankfully all was fine. It was a good lesson for me to experience a tumble and still get up and ride.  A few bumps and scrapes, but no real damage.

I flip-flopped my Long Bike/Long Run so that I could go out and cheer for the runners in The Woodlands Marathon.  It was a great day to run.  Nice a cool temps, though a bit windy, especially the latter part of the race.  I was really wishing I had registered, but I knew that doing so would compromise my IM training.  So I behaved. 

Richard and I ran the course cheering runners in and even found a friend to run to the finish with watching her grab her PR!   We talked about what we will try to do on the course next year....  I love dreaming!

The ride on Sunday was to be 4 hours, however, it was very cold and I didn't have the proper gear to ride in 30 degree temps.  Richard and I met at 24 Hour and spun for 2 hours as an alternate plan.  Looking back, I think this was the smartest choice as I had been increasing my bike mileage for the past 5-6 weeks and was due for a cut back week.

Weekly Recap
Feb 25-Mar 3
Swim:  8000 yds in 2:45
Bike:   72 miles in 4:00 (spin and road cycling)
Run: 22 miles in 3.5 hours
Cross:  30 mins (yoga, planks, ab work)

Total Time:  10.5 hours  Total Miles: 98

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ironman Training Week 18

I am going to try to post a short re-cap of my weekly training from now till race day as a way to chronicle the mental as well as physical journey that I am seeing take shape.

Something happened on last weekend's bike ride.  It was my longest ever, 61 miles and I was slated to ride it alone.  At about the half-way point, a cycling angel showed up and spent a solid 30 miles teaching me somethings about cycling that I needed to know.  He helped me to feel more confident on the bike and as they say, "knowledge is power" he shared knowledge with me that helped me to feel more comfortable on the bike and the notion of enjoying cycling became more plausible.

Until last Saturday, the weight of this race, the training, the stress on the family life, was all piling on and I was letting it have a good ol' mind game with me.  Saturday, something clicked, and I just felt better about things.  A side-note:

As a Catholic, I am in the season of Lent, the 40 days of preparation for Easter.  I prayed quite awhile before determining what my Lenten sacrifices would be this year.  I opted for dying to myself in several areas rather than the typical giving up of chocolate and coffee.  And I see now how important this is to my journey to the start line at Ironman.  I won't go into what those sacrifices are here as they are deeply personal and would not make much sense to anyone else.  But know that I am honestly working on dying to myself and trying to become less so that He can become more.

The ironic thing about training for Ironman or any race really, is how the one who is training has to begin to believe in themselves.  They have to see that they can do what they set their minds to do.  They must take time away from family and friends, responsibilities and obligations.  This can all appear to be quite self-centered and selfish as well as dangerously self-reliant.   Yet, I must find a way to live this life of training in a way that reflects my dependence upon my God.  I know without a doubt that NONE of what I do is possible without Him.  He blesses me with the ability to do this and my responsibility is to do it for Him.

So back to last Saturday, something clicked for me.  Finally.  I moved beyond the "I" and the "me" of the training and began to once again see "Him" in the plan.  I had forgotten to leave Him in charge.  I had forgotten it wasn't all about me, nor all on me to get it all in.  I had to call on Him, just as I do in every other area of my life, to walk this training journey with me.

The moment I realized that I was not turning to Him and then began to turn toward Him, the anxiety I was feeling left me.  I began to feel confident in my progress.  Am I certain I will cross the finish line?  No.  I am certain that I will do my very best and if it is HIS will, I will get to the start line and then, if all goes well I may even cross that finish line. 

Today I even had a moment of thinking how much I truly am enjoying the training and no matter what happens May 18th, just the joy of the process has been a gift that I will always cherish.

Weekly Recap
Feb 18-24th
Swim:  9200 yds in 3:35
Bike:  106 miles in 6:05
Run: 26 miles in 4:05
Cross:  30 mins (yoga, planks, ab work)

Total Time:  14:10  Total Miles:  137

Feeling like I am strong enough to get through the training cycle this week.  Hoping next week feels the same way!
Tailwind is proving to be an excellent choice for me.  I hope to get an updated review up soon.  GREAT STUFF!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Tailwind Nutrition - Initial Review

Towards the end of the last ultra/tri season, I knew that I would have to make some significant progress with proper fueling, especially if I wanted to continue with ultras and take on the Ironman challenge.

I thought I had found something with EFS, however, after a handful of runs with the product, my stomach let me know that it was not acceptable.  It was at this point I realized that I can not tolerate any maltodextrin.  I would not be too upset about this, as  I would prefer to use only whole foods to fuel my training and racing, however, water and trail mix were not/are not sustaining me for my goals.

I knew I needed to find a complete endurance fuel that could be mixed and taken in liquid form as I approach the IM challenge.  I am not very comfortable on the bike and for me to ride one-handed long enough to unwrap and try to eat solid food is an unsafe option.

A friend on DM gave an excellent review of a product I had never heard of.  Tailwind Nutrition is new to the market and their claims are quite robust.

They state that Tailwind Endurance Fuel is a complete source for energy and electrolytes and a meet all of the calorie needs.  The product is toted to be hydration pack friendly as it is not sticky and cleans easily from the containers.  It seemed to good to be true.  But I am desperate to find a product so I ordered a trial package of three packets which each contained 4 servings.

I used most of the product on three separate bike rides and an hour long run.  I had hoped to use it on a much longer run, but that did not materialize this time around.

Tailwind mixed up clear and was not too sweet or too salty.  Even my little guy, Boo, liked the taste.  On the bike, the drink was pleasant and I never felt sticky.

The best part of all is that I had NO stomach upset.  None at all.  Even after my third ride with Tailwind, the only problem I had was that I had used all of the product!!

Here are the nutritional stats from the package:

Yesterday I ordered the 50 serving package.  It occurred to me that I didn't know which flavor I liked best, which I found interesting as I usually lean in the Berry direction.  I found that each flavor was good, and honestly, such a light hint of flavor that it didn't over power the drink.

I plan to continue to try this product out over the coming months.  I am curious to try to mix it a little thicker or more concentrated for the longer training periods.  I also am eager to see how Tailwind handles the Texas heat, particularly my need for S-caps.

On the workouts that I used Tailwinds, I also supplemented with solid nutrition at rest stops.  Mostly Cliff Shot Blox and trail mix.  I have to really focus on keeping my calorie count up and I was not able to mix the Tailwind concentrated enough to sustain a 4 hour ride.  I will do this as soon as I receive my larger order.

Tailwind seems to be a great product and their customer service has been great!  If you try this product, let me know how it goes for you, and let the folks at Tailwind know too!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Reflections on Dad

I've had some rumblings of post ideas in my mind for several weeks, yet I have not really been able to piece anything together worthy of publishing.  Not sure that this will qualify either, but it is what it is.

The new year has started in full swing.  I have so very much to be thankful for and so many blessings in my life and still, I am sidelined at times by such sadness.

About 2 weeks ago, as I was driving the kids to our weekly co-op classes, I noticed a marquee on a local business that said, very simply, "Call your Dad".

This business is a storage facility that happens to profess their Christianity rather boldly on their sign, and I am always captured at how random the message appears to be, yet, dead on what I need to hear.

Since just before Christmas, my dad has not been well.  He is a typical guy that is stubborn and hard-headed, and one of those that has never been sick or in a hospital.  Apparently all of that changed a few weeks ago when he asked my step-mom to call 911.  He was in terrible pain and could not walk.  Turns out he had fractured a vertebrae in his lumbar region and required surgery to repair it.
He is still not well, but he is at home recovering.  I have been making a point to "call my dad" more often.

Several friends of mine have had bad news with regards to their dads.  One friend lost her dad last Saturday, rather unexpectedly.  Another friend lost his dad this week.  It wasn't unexpected, but nevertheless, very sad. 
And again, another friend is now dealing with the illness of his father and preparing to walk the journey to his final resting place with him.

Coincidence that I read, "Call your Dad"?  Probably not.  The message is an earthly one, but ultimately, it is a Heavenly one as well.  We must call on Our Father more.